e Partido Popular (PP) after the latter won the 1996 General Elections; at that point the PSOE had served almost 14 consecutive years in office.
On 1 January 2002, Spain ceased to use the peseta as currency replacing it with the euro, which it shares with 17 other countries in the Eurozone. Spain has also seen strong economic growth, well above the EU average; however, well publicised concerns issued by many economic commentators at the height of the boom that the extraordinary property prices and high foreign trade deficits of the boom were likely to lead to a painful economic collapse were confirmed by a severe property-led recession that struck the country in 2008/9.
A series of bombs exploded in commuter trains in Madrid, Spain on 11 March 2004. After a five month trial in 2007 it was concluded the bombings were perpetrated by a local Islamist militant group inspired by al-Qaeda. The bombings killed 191 people and wounded more than 1800, and the intention of the perpetrators may have been to influence the outcome of the Spanish general election, held three days later.
Though initial suspicions focused on the Basque group ETA, evidence soon emerged indicating possible Islamist involvement. Because of the proximity of the election, the issue of responsibility quickly became a political controversy, with the main competing parties PP and PSOE exchanging accusations over the handling of the aftermath. At 14 March elections, PSOE, led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, obtained a plurality, enough to form a new cabinet with Rodríguez Zapatero as the new Presidente del Gobierno or Prime Minister of Spain, thus succeeding the former PP administration.
The bursting of the Spanish property bubble in 2008 led to the 2008–2012 Spanish financial